Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Tern Bicycles: Manufacturing done responsibly

The Tern bicycle company is a world leader in many respects. Not only do they design and make bikes that win Red Dot design awards amongst many other industry accolades, but they think sustainable about how they make their products. So it's not just a brand that is constantly innovating and producing the world's best solutions for urban mobility, but they're doing it in a way that benefits Tern owners and global communities at large.

At Tern, we strive to get more people on bikes because cycling is a healthier, greener transportation alternative to a lot of environmentally adverse options out there. But we’re also aware that the processes we use to make and sell our bikes sometimes affects the environment more than we like and we believe we have a responsibility to reduce this impact as much as possible.
Creating a bicycle requires a lot of materials and processing, so we actively seek out environmentally-friendly options over less friendly ones. For example, when we discovered that suppliers were using chromium-6 on bike chains to reduce rust build-up, we found a company that could create a rust-resistant coating without it. Chromium-6 is a toxic chemical that can pollute drinking water, so minimizing its use is good for everyone.

How we recycle waste is also important. After recently wrapping up Interbike, North America’s largest bicycle trade show, we discovered that Las Vegas surprisingly lacks a home recycling program. Not wanting to see all our cans and bottles go into a landfill, we tossed them into the back of our truck along with our bikes and brought them back to our office in L.A. to be recycled. When we found ourselves with levers for our Physis Handlepost that didn’t quite meet specifications, we MacGyvered them into nifty bottle openers. Even our Tern hoodies are made from 91% recycled polyester fabric (and are snuggly warm, too).  
We’re also using the most efficient way to transport bikes to lessen our impact on the environment. We reduced the size of the cartons used to pack bikes, which allows us to include as many as a hundred more bikes in each shipping container compared to previous packing methods. We’ve up-cycled shipping containers into booths for trade shows, as they’re durable enough to last us for years, eliminating the need to create one-time use booths made out of wood.  
These are all small steps and small decisions, but collectively, they add up. We believe when sustainability and recyclability enter our decision-making process it has a positive impact on our suppliers and partners and staff as well. It’s important that we make our products using the same ideals and practices we’re championing, and we hope that by doing so, no matter how insignificant the steps may seem, we’re leaving things a little better in the end.

It's the little things indeed that make all the difference.

Check out some more on Tern's brand philosophy